The Omberg is situated in Östergötland on the shore of Lake Vättern. This mountain is Sweden's most species-rich forest landscape with many rare natural environments. The bold beech forest on the slope of Vättern, the giant oaks in the pasture landscape and the colourful mowing meadows are just three examples.
A mile-long steep bank characterizes the mountain to a large extent. Visitors can enjoy the fantastic view from Hjässan - Omberg's highest point -, walk among giant oaks and more than 100 years old fir trees or be enchanted by beautiful orchids in Omberg's limestone moors.
Nature and Geology
Both - Omberg's vegetation and its animal life - are as varied as its highly remarkable geological conditions. The Omberg is a so-called eyrie and is surrounded by distortions on all its sides. The mountain itself consists mainly of granite. In the southeastern part there is also some gneiss at the age of 1.8 billion years. On the side of the mountain facing Vättern, above all slate and sandstone emerges, which was formed 850-600 million years ago. North of Omberg's granite mass, near Borghamn, limestone is in an almost horizontal deposit. Limestone has been mined there for a long time, and this is still the case today. The undisturbed bearings show that the dislocations at Omberg must be younger than the Ordovician (before 485.4 - 443.4 million years between Cambrian and Silurian).
The name Omberg is made up of the old Nordic "ama" (for fog, smoke) and mountain. Its meaning is thus "mountain of fog" or mountain, surrounded by haze and fog.
The tract around Omberg has been inhabited for a long time, and the pile dwellings at Alvastra bear witness to this. Man has left many interesting traces here.
During the turbulent period of migration around 400-500 AD, three so-called "Hillfort castles" were built on the Omberg. The Hjässaborg in the south is the largest with a 450 m long and 1.5 m high wall. Borggården is the best preserved castle. It is located about 2 km north of the Hjässatorget. Drottning Ommas Borg is the smallest and is located on the northwestern tip of the Omberg.
In the 12th century the Ombergstrakt became a centre for the Sverker dynasty. At about the same time a nobleman from Östergötland, Sverker, was elected king of Sweden. During his reign, the monastery was founded by Alvastra. The monastery was abandoned after King Gustav Vasa had confiscated the properties of the church for the state. During the monastery's time, at least five farms were set up on the Omberg, including Stocklycke, Elvarum and Höje. In connection with the creation of the state enclosure Stocklycke became the seat of the animal keepers and Höje domicile of the inspector.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Omberg was one of Sweden's largest state enclosures, i. e. the king's private hunting grounds. These were difficult times for the local farmers. They were forced to maintain and guard the 21-kilometre fence around the enclosure so that no wolf or lynx could enter the area. At the same time, there was great poverty and poaching was a great temptation. The punishments were harsh if one was caught: beating with the rod, imprisonment or punishment in a fortress of the crown. The enclosure was closed in 1805. The majority of the harts were transported to Stockholm's animal park - the Omberg became Kronopark.
In the spring of 1859 a state forestry school was established in Höje, and at the same time the use of the Omberg forest began. During the forestry school epoch, a number of exotic tree species were settled on the Omberg, such as silver fir and larch, in order to increase the students' knowledge about foreign tree species. The forestry school was closed in 1935. The traditional forestry on the Omberg continued until 2003, when the Ecopark was inaugurated.
Ecopark is a larger coherent forest landscape with valuable nature and great nature conservation ambitions. With its 1700 hectares of land, the Omberg is one of Sveaskog's smaller ecoparks, but at the same time one of the most visited. Every year around 350,000 people visit the legendary mountain with its bold nature and many cultural monuments.
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1. Ecopark Centre Omberg
The Ecopark Centre in Stocklycke is a good starting point for a visit to the Ecopark, nature walks, hiking trails and guided nature and culture walks start here.
2. Stocklycke äng
Stocklycke äng is a meadow with fantastic flowers. Sunroses, common milkwort (swed. Jungfrulin) and primroses grow here.
Stocklycke Youth Hostel and Café
Stocklycke Youth Hostel and Café
3. Stocklycke Youth Hostel and Café
At this place there was originally a farm, which belonged to the monastery in Alvastra. The youth hostel is one of the oldest in Sweden and is located in the middle of the beech forest of Omberg, just a few hundred metres from Lake Vättern.
Staircase at Stocklycke Harbour
4. Stocklycke Harbour
Until the 1950s, the port was of great importance for the economy of the Omberg region. Wood from forestry on the mountain was shipped from here to the industries on Lake Vättern. In only a short distance south of the harbour there is a visitor-friendly cave on the lake shore.
5. Rödgavels grotto
Rödgavel's grotto is the largest of fifteen caves on the steep bank of the Vättern. Water runs through the ceiling into the lake. Legend has it that Queen Omma mourns her injured suitor. In cold winters, the tears of Queen Omma freeze to long icicles in the cave. The ice formations take on the shape of the gnomes, trolls and also the medieval monks who had sought shelter in the cave. Rödgavel's grotta extends twenty-one metres into the mountain and has a ceiling height of 1.2 metres. She can only be reached by boat.
Beech forest nature reserve
6. Beech forest nature reserve
The Beech forest nature reserve is a beech and noble leaf forest on the slope to Lake Vättern. Here at the Omberg, beech tree is found its northernmost habitat in eastern Scandinavia. The nature reserve is home to the oldest and strongest specimens.
7. Västra Djurledet
In the first half of the 17th century, a state enclosure was built on the Omberg. It was surrounded by a 21-kilometre-long and about four-metre-high gärdesgård, which was maintained by the local farmers. Names such as Södra and Västra Djurledet (southern and western animal path) and Brottsledet (stone quarry path) are remnants of this period and refer to openings in the fence.
8. Ellen Keys villa Strand
Ellen Keys villa Strand is located in an inviting spot on Vättern, surrounded by beech forest. This is where the writer Ellen Key (1849-1926) lived during her last period of life. The house was a meeting place for important artists and writers of the time. Guided tours take place here from May to September.
Alvastra, 599 93 Ödeshög
for single visitors, 1 - 8 persons. Pre-booking required. For prebooked groups, special tour times apply.
Saturday-Sunday 11, 12 and 14.
28 June–14 August:
Tuesday-Sunday 11, 12, 14 and 16r
15 August–31 August:
Tuesday-Sunday 11 and 14
1-30 September: Saturday, Sunday and on holidays 11 and 14
The Sverkersgården is a medieval remnant from the time of King Sverker and the powerful Sverker dynasty that ruled Sweden in the 12th century. Here at this place were the remains of a crypt church. However, the square was used long before Sverker's time.
10. Ombergs Turisthotell
Ombergs Turisthotell is a classic hotel from 1914 and is the same age as Gyllenhammar's pension in Borghamn. Together with the former tourist hotel in Borghamn they are witnesses of the development of tourism on the Omberg.
Alvastra monastery ruin. [from Ödeshögs hembygdsbok]
11. Alvastra Monastery
The monastery of Alvastra was founded in 1143 by French Cistercian monks. The Holy Birgitta received her most important revelations here. During and as a result of the Reformation in the 16th century, the monastery was dissolved after King Gustav Vasa had confiscated the properties of the church. The stones of the buildings were taken away and reused for the construction of the castle in Vadstena and Per Brahe's buildings at Lake Vättern. The Alvastra monastery became a ruin.
12. Pile dwellings
The pile dwellings of Alvastra are Sweden's only pile dwellings of the late Stone Age and one of the oldest prehistoric sites dating back to about 3100 years before Christ's birth. The pile dwellings are interpreted as a central place of ritual importance and with a relatively short useful life. Nowadays there is not much to see above the earth, but there are signs describing the complex.
13. Södra Djurledet
Here at Södra Djurledet was one of the five gates that allowed access to the state enclosure.
View from Makersbergen on Dags Mosse
14. Dags Mosse
The extensive moor between Tåkern and Omberg was originally a bay of Lake Tåkern. Peat is extracted here in an ecological way. The moor is drained to the south through the Ålbäcken, which flows into the Vättern.
Pentecostal excursion to the Hjässatorget. [From Ödeshögs hembygdsbok]
15. Hjässan and Hjässaborgen
The Hjässan, the highest point of the Omberg with a height of 263 metres, is one of the most popular excursion destinations on the Omberg. It offers an excellent view over Vättern, Tåkern and the Östergötland plain. On the mountain there are remains of the Hjässaborg, the largest of Omberg's three hill forts with a massive 450-metre-long stone wall, which originally could have been several metres high.
On the way to Sweden's tallest fir tree
40. Sweden's tallest tree
Sweden's tallest tree is a silver fir. It is 49.5 m high (measured in 2016) and has a circumference of 3.30 m at the foot. The fir tree was planted by Omberg's Skogsskola (1859-1935) only a stone's throw away from the school.
16. Höje Lilläng
The best meadow flora of the Omberg can be found on Höje Lilläng. Together with the provincial government of Östergötland, Sveaskog restores the former meadows by traditional mowing and grazing.
17. Mörkahålkärret's nature reserve
Mörkahålkärret's nature reserve consists of a lime moor with several different kinds of orchids, such as fly orchids and marsh orchids, as well as many other plants that like calcareous soil.
The steep slope, which is well worth seeing, drops down almost vertically in the Vättern. Along a deep gorge it is possible to descend to the lake. Limescale deposits create a mosaic-like pattern in the slope.
19. Per's stone
The giant Per from Tiveden has left his trail (s) here in the form of a boulder, Pers Sten, at a curve of the Lake Road. Per threw the stone across the Vättern in order to destroy the church bells in Heda, whose ringing bells bothered him.
20. Norra Sjövägen (Northern Lake Road)
The Norra Sjövägen begins in Stocklycke and runs as a one way road to Borghamn. From it you can enjoy overwhelming views.
Trail at Borggården
The best-preserved of Omberg's three hill forts is located in a secluded location about two kilometres north of the Hjässatorget. The fort itself is relatively small and lies on a ledge facing east.
Renstadsfällan is a flowery natural pasture landscape where primroses bloom in summer.
There is no scheduled service to Omberg. But at Östgötatrafiken you can book journeys between Vadstena and northern Omberg as well as between Ödeshög and southern Omberg. Read more on Östgötatrafiken - Närtrafik (In swedish only, use translation function for information in English).
23. Älvarums udde
Älvarums udde is a bold place at the Vättern with a barbecue site, wind shelter and swimming and fishing opportunities.
24. Storpissan's nature reserve
The Storpissan Nature Reserve is a forest rich in fir trees with many old trees. The forest has many deadwoods and stumps in different stages of decay, attracting a number of insects, lichens and birds. In spring, Storpissan's outflow in the Vättern forms a powerful stream.
25. Omberg's giant oaks
The giant oaks on the Omberg are in an area of sixteen hectares. About forty trees are several hundred years old. By keeping the area open and with the help of grazing animals, Sveaskog restores the pasture landscape that existed 150 years ago. There are numerous unusual insects living in trees, including the rare hermit beetle.
41. Omberg's oldest oak
Below Sjövägen you can see an oak tree, which began to grow in 1374. It was the same year as Hl. Birgitta's remains were sent back to Vadstena from Rome (she had died in Rome the year before).
View from Marbergen
Marbergen offers a beautiful view over the surroundings, for example the nature reserve of Storpissan.
The Vitlerbäcken is a lime-rich brook, where a lichen inventory was carried out.
28. Västra Väggar
Västra Väggar offers a fantastic view over the Vättern.
The nature reserve consists of a mosaic of different nature forms such as lime moor, wet meadows, dry limestone meadows, open pastures as well as deciduous and coniferous forests, often with a marshy character. The flora is rich. About ten species of orchids can be found, as well as a lot of other plants that require a calcareous environment. In addition, Ostmossen with the nearby Ombergsliden forms one of Sweden's most distinguished places of residence for large butterflies. Almost 300 different species were counted here. That is one third of all butterfly species in Sweden.
The Kommendanten building is open for rent during the period 1/11-1/4 with self-catering. After that, the entire facility will be reopened. Breakfast and picnic basket are available from 1/4-1/11. Lunch and dinner can be ordered by groups of more than 7 participants from 1/4-1/11. The harbour café is closed until coming season.
Open from Easter to October.
Kafé på Skedet
Open thursday-sunday 11-16 from July until beginning of August.
Hotel and Restaurant. Open all year round.
Ödeshögs Youth Hostel
Open 1 May - 15 September. Book via
+46-144-107 00, or Youth Hostel Mother Eva Gustafsson +46-72-544 7166.
30. Ombergsliden's nature reserve
Ombergsliden is mainly known for its rich orchids. Here one encounters species such as fly orchid, spotted orchid, broad-leaved helleborine, marsh helleborine, listera ovata, early marsh-orchid and the rarely encountered gymnadenia odoratissima. In the bogs of the nature reserve, which are rich in minerals, unusual snails such as the vertigo geyeri can be found.
Hl. Hjärtas Kloster (Convent of the Sacred Heart)
31. Hl. Hjärtas Kloster (Convent of the Sacred Heart)
The Convent of the Sacred Heart is located on a beautiful natural slope on the Omberg hill, which was inaugurated in 1997. Here the sisters live a monastic life according to the rules of St. Benedict with the Virgin Mary as mother and example.
The Vallgatan runs east of Sjövägen from Drottning Ommas Borg to Höje. It is closed to general traffic.
Drottning Omma is said to have lived in the northernmost castle, just above Borghamn. A girl from the village was abducted into the castle to be raised to the new queen after the old one. Drottning Omma always wore a mask. Granmar, who had lost his fiancée to Omma, visited her and killed her just to find out that it was his fiancée he had killed. The exchange had already been completed.
Drottning Ommas Borg
33. Drottning Ommas Borg
Drottning Ommas Borg is the northernmost and smallest of the three hill forts on the Omberg from the migration period of 450-550 AD. Thanks to the steep slope to Vättern, the castle was impenetrable from the west. A double wall with palisades provided protection on the east and northeast side. There are many legends surrounding the castle. Verner von Heidenstam (1849-1940) wrote the poems "Bygdeborgen" and "Borgen susar", which deal with Queen Omma.
Traces of the state enclosure
Here at the quarry and the old road to the Omberg, the north-eastmost opening was in the fence of the royal enclosure. The gatekeepers' houses were not demolished until 1946.
The small cemetery is idyllically situated in the middle of a grove of mighty oaks and hazel bushes under the northern slopes of Omberg. The small hills conceal about 80 graves of men from the Crown Labour Corps, i.e. prisoners who worked in Borghamns limestone quarry . They quarried stone for the fortress of Karlsborg on the western shore of the Vättern. A simple wooden cross has been erected at the site: "Here, between 1860 and 1894, around 80 men from the Crown Labour Corps were buried. They quarried stone for the Karlsborg fortress." ("Här begravdes 1860 - 1894 omkring 80 man ur kronoarbetskåren. De bröto stenen till Karlsborgs fästning.")
Limestone quarrying in Omberg's quarry
36. Borghamn's limestone quarry
Limestone has been used in Sweden as building material since the beginning of the 12th century. Here in Borghamn, the Cistercian monks began to break limestone for their monastery in Alvastra, which was consecrated in 1143. Since then, the quarry has been used continuously to this day. Other important buildings using limestone from Borghamn were the monastery church in Vadstena, the Götakanal, Karlsborg Fortress and the National Museum.
37. Borghamn's harbour
The western part of the harbour in Borghamn was built between 1810 and 1827 by the Göta Canal Company to cope with deliveries to the construction sites on the Göta Canal between Motala and the Baltic Sea. In the second half of the 19th century, the eastern part was added with the so-called Bondbryggan for the transport of grain to Western Götaland.
38. Fishing Museum
The Fishing Museum is housed in the former laundry building of the Kronoarbetskorps and displays equipment and fishing methods from Borghamns history.
39. Borghamn Strand
Borghamn Strand was opened in April 2019 in the old premises of the former Borghamn School and is a popular destination for hikers and day visitors in Borghamn and on Omberg. Here you will find accomodation with hotel and hostel standard, a harbour café, sauna, mountain bike and kayak rental. The facility was a work station under the direction of the Crown Labour Corps, after the swedish state bought the quarry and harbour in 1842. Guided tours within the historic Borghamn and to Queen Ommas castle depart from here. There are also tours of the limestone quarry and walks in the quarrying tracks of Borghamn.
A greeting from Omberg. Ombergs Hjässa, before 1950.
An excursion to Ombergs Hjässa was popular then as now.
The picture was in the archive of Josef Lindberg (1891-1964) and Gunhild Maria Lindberg born Axbom (1893-1979), which was donated to Östergötland Museum in 2004 by a relative, Roy Andersson.